Word in political circles is that longtime Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk is strongly considering stepping down before his current term expires in 2012âand that his strong-arm chief deputy, Norm Frink, may retire with him. Insiders say two contenders are lining up to replace Schrunk, who was first elected in 1980. One is Rod Underhill, Schrunkâs other chief deputy. The other is Sean Riddell, a former gang-unit deputy in Schrunkâs office who moved to the Oregon Department of Justice in 2009 to head Attorney General John Krogerâs criminal unit. Schrunk said Tuesday that he hasnât yet made a decision. âAt the appropriate time,â he says, âIâll announce my intentions.â
Gov. John Kitzhaberâs plan to revamp state agencies is proceeding slower than the budget he proposed this week. Kitzhaber earlier requested 24 state agency headsâ resignations saying heâd rehire those who fit his philosophy. One high-profile rehire is George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the university system. But interestingly, one agency boss still hanging fire is Oregon Department of Transportation director Matt Garrett, a former colleague of Kitzhaberâs transition adviser, Tom Imeson. Garrett is a strong proponent of the Columbia Crossing Bridge Project on which he worked with Kitzhaberâs campaign manager, Patricia McCaig.
Portland activist Jeff Bernards has donated $10,000 to start efforts to get an initiative on the 2012 state ballot that would ban studded tires in Oregon. Studded tires cause about $40 million in damage to Oregon highways each year, according to the state Department of Transportation, which pours $11 million into repairs annually. And with the state Legislature facing a $3.5 billion shortfall, Bernards thinks the millions spent on repairing damage from studded tires could go to better use. Heâs hired Democracy Resources to help manage the campaign, which will need about 82,000 signatures to make the 2012 ballot.
BAGGOTTThereâs a new leader at the Bus Project, the Oregon nonprofit that has registered young voters, thrown great parties and acted as a springboard for a number of progressive politicians. Sheâs Caitlin Baggott, whose longtime work at the Bus has most recently included being its strategic director and leader of the groupâs leadership training program. Baggott takes the helm from Jefferson Smith, the founding leader of the Bus Project and a Democrat currently in his second term representing east Portland in the Oregon House.
P-Townâs presidential showdown? Supporters of bringing a presidential debate to Portland are not letting past quadrennial discouragements stop them from trying again. Project manager Mark Kirchmeier says debate organizers have met with officials at the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission and Oregon Convention Center to discuss details on submitting an application for bringing a debate here in 2012.